Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Incredible Human Project

A few weeks ago, I got back in touch with a fellow Sewanee alum, Will Harper. I had read an article he posted on LinkedIn, and was impressed by the work he was doing. The things he's writing about are important, and more people need to read them. A few posts ago, I spoke about knowing people who're fortunate to have found work that they're passionate about; Will is definitely one of them. I'll let him do the rest of the introducing, and I hope that you go over to his website to learn more!


Will Harper
Two years ago, I began a research project to understand the psychology and philosophy of human experience and the means and characteristics of its greatest expression. In trying to understand what people want in general, I discovered what I want in particular and now am running straight for it. I have left two jobs, am in the midst of moving for the fourth time and am rapidly draining my bank account as I launch a new business. I couldn't be happier.

I went to college at The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. Sewanee did what any great educational experience does: it harnessed my open heart and curiosity and turned them inward on my rather unaware, adolescent mind. It enabled me to see the world from a higher altitude.

After graduating, I moved to Mexico City, where I became a management consultant, working on problem-solving SWAT teams in big multinational corporations in Latin America. The learning curve was steep and the work was fascinating and intense. Living in another country stretched me more than I would have guessed. The constant challenge to learn to do everything in a slightly different way transmutes our many "should bes" into "could bes." Truly seeing that other ways aren't wrong, but merely different is among the most important of life's lessons.

After four years in Mexico, I moved to Chicago to attend the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. While there, I became aware of my own aimlessness. I had plenty of opportunities for post-business school life, but no clear way to evaluate different cities, industries, workloads and levels of prestige. I realized that I didn't know what I wanted. I looked around at my classmates and saw the same lack of direction. We were ambitious achievers, but were focused on our resumes rather than our lives as a whole. 

I formed a five person research team and we spent 6 months studying the psychology of happiness with the goal of helping our classmates understand how to incorporate fulfillment into their approach to life. The research was personally transformative. When we presented to standing room only crowds on two different dates, I realized that I had uncovered work that was deeply fulfilling for me and valuable to those around me in a way that the many spreadsheets I had created in my twenties hadn't seemed to be. 

I have spent the last two years deepening my understanding of how we can live full, rich lives and how, in organizations, we can do so in community. We all want to have an impact and to be happy; we want to do good and feel good. This is fueled by a compelling purpose and our outlook on life. I am excited to be sharing these lessons as widely as possible, through writing, talks, workshops, coaching and consulting. I would be honored to have you as a reader and to hear your stories and reflections on happiness. 

1 comment:

Puzzled said...

Confucius say full bank account is key to happiness.
The Old Dog

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